The Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club has opted out of the Sveti Duje regatta after learning that they would be staying in a hostel while the Men’s Boat Club was staying in a five-star hotel. The Cambridge women’s rowers were invited to the prestigious event in Split, Croatia, but rejected the invitation after finding out about the disparity in the accommodations.
Town & Country reports that the women’s team was expected to stay at a hostel or in student housing for the third year in a row while their male counterparts were treated to a luxury resort ( Le Meridien Lav) where rooms start at $200 a night per guest. The Cambridge University Men’s Boat Club had their airfare from the U.K. to Croatia paid for by organizers of the event, while the women’s club was expected to pay for their own airfare.
Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club President Daphne Martschenko released a statement after the team decided to decline the invitation.
“It’s advertised as a celebration of Cambridge and Oxford. The men and women are presented as teams that are on equal footing. And yet there is the disparity in terms of accommodation that’s quite stark.”
Martschenko and former club president Ashton Brown had posted on Facebook that they would prefer to row in events that were non-sexist, and they received a great deal of backlash for pulling out of the event in Croatia.
Martschenko was upset by the lack of support within the community, especially from male rowers.
“I feel so much anger and sadness and exhaustion. If the conversation was reversed I wonder what they’d be saying.”
She explains that she had really believed that women in sports had made progress and that the two teams would be treated the same going forward. Brown added on Twitter that when she stood up for the club she was told that she was the problem, said Cambridge News.
“Was just told how I was somehow perpetuating the unequal treatment of women at a particular event. According to them, the onus is on women to support the event until it goes away. Disgusting.”
Quintus Travis, chairman of Cambridge University Boat Club, seemed to make excuses for the inequity and had not considered offering to split the difference to provide appropriate lodging and flights for everyone in the men’s and women’s clubs, but he claims that the ultimate goal is a level playing field.
“CUWBC and CUBC collaborate to advance rowing at Cambridge and they aim jointly at the highest levels of performance, but they are separate clubs with separate programmes. All our rowers work to promote sporting excellence each year on the Thames and elsewhere. Equality in sport is central to that mission.”